When planning a trip to Southeast Asia, Cambodia should 100% be included in your itinerary. Phnom Penh being the capital is considered a starting point for most travellers, but for the purposes of pleasure and meditative relaxation, we chose to explore Siem Reap, the home Ankor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (more on this impressive temple complex later), and of course home to the Park Hyatt Siem Reap.
Our luxury seeking NET founder, Ben Wilson, had the pleasure of staying at the Park Hyatt Sieam Reap in 2013 after a rebrand from it’s former Hotel De La Paix. One of his notes to me prior to departure were, “The location is perfectly situated..” and ideal location indeed. A pleasant 15 minutes from the Siem Reap Airport (take a tuk tuk if you don’t have a ton of luggage, the little open air vehicles are a classic way to see the area), 5 minutes into the main shopping and dining area, while the Ankor Wat temple complex is another 15 minutes North along breezy country roads.
Entrance to the hotel is on a bustling corner, so it feels a bit short stopped and hectic, yet this feeling falls away the moment you set your eyes on the gorgeous Buddha statue holding a freshly picked lotus flower in the lobby atrium. Elegant serenity. The design of the hotel compartmentalises much of the main areas almost like a grand mansion; a counterbalanced mix between french colonial and modern southeast asian influence. Think, Buddha statues alongside cherry stained dining tables. One minute you’re enjoying a complimentary arrival beverage in their dark, mid century Living Room dining and bar area, then next you are charmed by Cambodian dancers dressed in traditional gold garb before the breathtaking Banyan tree courtyard. As mentioned, elegant serenity.
Though it is a Park Hyatt in name, the property exudes boutique-like qualities. With 104 rooms, one might think you would feel the closeness of others at times. But, I have to say in the few days we spent in Siem Reap, we only felt the buzz of people during their lavish breakfast buffets. Even there not once did we have to fall in line for one of their delicious dumplings or hot dish of the day — though, the Fish Amok I would’ve waited for!
Our Room, the Executive King Suite, was extremely spacious for two people. Sitting lounge with a large flatscreen, table with chairs, separate half bath next to a minibar alcove complete with a personal Nespresso maker. Hand controls near the bed for ultimate lighting laziness, huge walk-in closet for luggage storage (a true knee high area for unpacking), and perhaps my favorite addition would be the sumptuous marble bathtub with an inset TV for optimal bathing time relaxation.
If you are more of a relax by the pool traveler than a see it all kind, the Park Hyatt Siem Reap delivers here as well. Two pools exclusively designed for their spaces, and a major step up from ordinary. The lap pool located just around the corner from the hanging daybeds (a breakfast time must), is the smaller option of the two, but I believe provides the best daytime sunbathing option.
Since Ben’s inspection, the free form pool inconspicuously located on the middle level has had a few aesthetic updates creating a truly unique space tucked away from the hustle and bustle. Small nooks under pandanus trees; a footbridge that connects to covered daybeds for shade seekers, and bathrooms complete with smaller banyan trees growing up the middle adjacent to the abode. Either pools have dining and drink options from the main restaurant The Dining Room, or perhaps enjoy a late afternoon tea on the Living Room patio, complete with French and Indochinese inspired accompaniments.
The Spa sits behind the free form pool, but again, feels worlds away and smells so, so lovely. Traditional feet washing starts each service with lotus petals and a choose-your-own-scent essential oil additive. You’re relaxed from head-to-toe even before the treatment begins, literally!
Though the facilities were top notch in all aspects, it was the service and activities that really made the trip so memorable. Of course the hotel is able to suggest various tour options for exploring Ankor Wat (a truly amazing experience – sunrise tour recommended to beat the heat, and the crowds). But, it was the Nom Bahn Chok tour with the hotel’s head chef himself, that took our time at the Park Hyatt to the next level. The personal touches, smiling faces, and bend over backwards service will have me returning as fast as I can say “Ar Kun” — thank you!